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Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

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During his recent confirmation hearings, new Pentagon chief Ashton Carter gave “every indication that he would be a hard-liner at the Pentagon and a strong counterweight to administration doves.” He said that he would be “inclined” to send “defensive arms” to Ukraine and would resist efforts to speed up the closure of Guantanamo Bay. After his first trip to Afghanistan as secretary of defense, he announced the United States may slow its withdrawal of troops and keep more troops in the country than previously planned.



Billionaire hedge fund investor Seth Klarman is a prolific funder of an array of rightist “pro-Israel” groups. He has supported The Israel Project, the Middle East Forum, and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, among other groups. Klarman also invests in Israeli media, having established his own newspaper, the Times of Israel, in 2012. He has bemoaned growing sympathy for the Palestinians, stating: “In the West, ‘Palestinianism’—the notion that an innocent, indigenous people suffers a senseless, cruel oppression by the Jews of Israel (who ought to know better) threatens to become the standard view.”


Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has been outspoken in his criticisms of the Obama administration, wildly arguing recently that Obama may have “switched sides on the war on terror.” He has also derided the administration for not reaching a status of forces agreement with Afghanistan, stating that even a “trained ape could get a status of forces agreement.” According to the Center for American Progress, the Rumsfeld Foundation has funded the Frank Gaffney-led Center for Security Policy, a stringently anti-Islamic organization.



David Albright and his Institute for Science and International Security are widely regarded as important apolitical members of the nonproliferation community in the United States. However, a growing number of writers and experts have begun criticizing Albright’s work, particularly on Iran. And Albright himself has in recent years repeatedly associated himself with explicitly political endeavors, including collaborating with numerous individuals and organizations that have a track record of promoting U.S. wars in the Middle East.



Meghan O’Sullivan, a former special assistant to President George W. Bush who was heavily involved in Iraq policy, is one of a handful of Bush alums who have been tapped to assist potential Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush develop his foreign policy agenda. “Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush … is seeking to distinguish his views on foreign policy from those of his father and brother, two former presidents,” quipped the Washington Post, “but he's getting most of his ideas from nearly two dozen people, most of whom previously worked for George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush.”


Gary Samore, a former adviser to the Obama administration who is now the president of the hawkish United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), has at times appeared to be out of step with UANI’s agenda. For example, despite UANI’s push for additional sanctions on Iran, Samore has argued that this could actually help the Iranians by putting “more pressure on the P5+1 to make additional concessions.” On the other hand, during a recent appearance at the Jewish Institute for International Security Affairs, Samore argued that “a united threat by the P5+1 to end the talks and reinvigorate sanctions could make a big difference to the potential success of negotiations.”


Michael Doran, a former Bush administration official now based at the neoconservative Hudson Institute, has been an outspoken promoter of U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, equating the region with a form of diabetes and arguing that “a bias toward military action is the best way to treat the disease.” Doran has called U.S. efforts to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program a sign of “American retreat” and has pushed for additional sanctions. In a recent interview with the right-wing Breitbart News, he said it would be “wonderful” for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress to “lay these issues out clearly so that we start debating what Obama is doing.”

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From the Wires

February 25, 2015

Rather than allowing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to dominate the media stories about the Iran nuclear negotiations, more airtime and even invitations to address Congress should be given to our NATO allies.

February 24, 2015

There is a clear correlation between state secrecy and the rule of law—as one grows, the other surely shrinks.

February 22, 2015

Jeb Bush’s failure to repudiate his brother’s Iraq War leaves the question if he has similar attitudes towards the use of military force.

February 17, 2015

If the Obama administration wants to avoid the Bush administration's mistakes in Iraq, it must find a way to ensure that a war against ISIS does not become “enduring” or morph into an “occupation.”

February 16, 2015

The Obama administration’s draft Authorization for Use Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS is dangerously broad and risks U.S. mission creep.

February 12, 2015

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s enthusiastic promotion of the invasion of Iraq in Congress in 2002 begs the question why his current assessments about Iran should be viewed as any more accurate than his assessments about Iraq.

February 09, 2015

The 2015 National Security Strategy, President Obama’s last, fails to provide any sense of how the United States will be able to afford to address the numerous challenges facing the country and the world while it remains committed to pouring resources into the usual panoply of tanks, fighter jets, and drones.

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